If your dog has ever had a bladder infection, then you know the signs to look for; however, if you haven’t experienced this before, you may not really know how to tell if your dog may have one. Bladder infection in dogs occurs when bacteria and other microbes get inside of the bladder and begin to proliferate. While just about every dog can get bladder infections, it is much more common with the females.
Infection will start to irritate the bladder, and this causes more frequent urges to urinate. If you notice that your dog has been squatting a lot, but not producing very much urine, then a bladder infection may be the culprit. This is actually one of the biggest tell-tale signs of infection. Other common signs may also include cloudy or blood tinged urine. If left untreated, it can lead to complicated bladder stones.
To treat a bladder infection, antibiotics are most often used. In rare cases of serious bladder stones, surgery, special diets or sound waves may be necessary to get rid of them.
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A Closer Look at Bladder Infection in Dogs
Your dog’s bladder is basically an expandable balloon like organ that lies at the base of the abdomen.
Urine passes through your dog’s kidneys, down through their ureters, and then down into the bladder until it is eliminated through the urethra. Urine is actually quite sterile while it is still in the bladder.
That is, unless bacteria have traveled up the urethra into the bladder and caused an infection.
How Does the Bacteria Get There?
Bacteria are typically introduced from either the genital or anal areas, and can sometimes travel up the urethra into the bladder. This is one of the main ways that bacteria travels to the bladder. Dogs that suffer from diabetes are much more likely to have a bladder infection, because medications such as high dose, long term corticosteroids that are used to treat diabetes can often cause the immune system to weaken.
If an infection is left untreated for a long time, or is unresponsive to treatments, then the tissue of the bladder can start to thicken and create scar tissue. This makes more crevices and places for the bacteria to flourish. Long term bladder infections will usually increase the risks of the infection going further up into the kidneys or even causing bladder stones in dogs.
How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Bladder Infection
As we said earlier, one of the biggest signs that your pup has a bladder infection is an increased urge to urinate more often. This urge will be there, even if there is not really much urine in the bladder. This is caused by the irritation of the bladder walls due to the infection. Your dog may pass urine in small amounts, and it may also be tinged with blood or appear cloudy. Sometimes dogs may even have accidents in the house when they normally would not. This is due to their increased urge.
When you get your pet to the vet, the veterinarian will be able to diagnose their bladder infection. They will probably do a urinalysis just to make sure they can accurately diagnose. Sometimes they can even tell the type of bacteria that is causing the infection. This will allow them to give you the proper antibiotic treatment to get rid of the infection quickly. If it is severe enough, they may also recommend an abdominal x-ray or an ultrasound to rule out bladder stones, growths, tumors, or other obstruction or abnormalities.
Treating Your Pet Effectively
Treating a normal bladder infection isn’t very difficult. Typically, your veterinarian will recommend 1 – 2 weeks of antibiotics. In cases of severe or chronic infection, longer treatment may be necessary. If you find that you are treating your dog often for a bladder infection, there may be an underlying condition that is causing the infection. This is something that you will want to discuss with your dog’s vet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with bladder stones, there are a few different ways that you can get rid of them. Your vet will be able to recommend the one that is going to be the best for your pup. Here are a few of the options:
- surgical removal of the bladder stones by opening up the bladder
- crushing the bladder stones with sound waves
- certain types of prescription diets designed to dissolve the bladder stones
These diets are also suitable for prevention of bladder stone formation. If your dog has been affected with bladder stones in the past, then it may be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about preventative measures that you can take.
Speaking of prevention, we have a few other helpful tips that will help to reduce your dog’s risk of bladder infection.
- Keep your dog bathed and regularly. If their genital or anal area is dirty then the bacteria can move into the urinary tract to the bladder.
- Keep your dog groomed regularly. Make sure that the hair around their genitals is clean and trimmed to prevent bacteria and infection.
- Give your dog fresh drinking water each day to prevent them from taking in bacteria into their digestive system.
- Consider adding water to your pet’s food from time to time if they aren’t taking in enough water. This will help boost their fluid intake.
- Make sure your dog has food all of the time because it helps to flush out bacteria and other harmful microbes.
- Let your dog urinate often to keep the urine from building up for long periods in the bladder.
- Make sure that your dog gets enough physical activity each day. Exercise helps to stimulate the bladder and make sure the urinary tract stays clean.
- Avoid foods that contain chemicals, artificial colors and preservatives because this can weaken your dog’s immune system.
- Get rid of your dog’s leftover food in their food bowl to keep bacteria from growing in it and contaminating it.
- Keep your dog’s food and water bowl cleaned daily to prevent bacteria from growing.
As you can see, it is very important to make sure that you keep your dog’s urinary tract healthy. Now that you know how to spot a bladder infection, you will be better able to ensure that your dog gets proper treatment. You don’t want to let the infection go unnoticed. This is why you really need to keep a close eye on your dog and their behaviors. If you notice any serious changes in their urination, it is really a good idea to go ahead and get in with your veterinarian.
Once you have your dog treated, it will typically be the end of the infection. That doesn’t mean that it is always the case. There is always a chance that your dog could relapse with the infection, so you definitely want to follow up with your vet to make sure that it is completely gone. They may recommend a second course of antibiotic treatment if there is any question that it is completely eradicated. It isn’t something that you want to play around with. Don’t try to self-diagnose or self-treat the infection, because chances are you will not be very successful and it could lead to more problems down the road. Always get a professional diagnosis and follow their recommended course of treatment to ensure the best possible outcome for your dog.
I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.
We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.
On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.